May 24

Cirque du Soleil’s “Kurios”: Raising the Tent

Photo by Gillian Daniels

Photo by Gillian Daniels

Exposé by Gillian Daniels

(East Boston, MA) The day I watch the tent raised in Boston, the sky is blue and cloudless. The tent itself is partially up but looks like a deflated balloon. Men and women in hard hats stand around the interior circumference, speaking French Canadian-accented and Boston-tinged English.

Any circus needs a main tent, and Kurios – Cabinet of Curiosities is no exception. This is Cirque du Soleil before it puts on its sequins and tights.

But they’re ready. At each section of the tent, there is a rush forward as the workmen push the poles up. Only afterward do they go around and lock them into place. This is the core before everything else is added, before even the stage and safety net are set up.

Photo by Gillian Daniels

Photo by Gillian Daniels

Kurios is described to us as a show about nineteenth century innovation meant to mirror contemporary s technology. It pivots on the imagery of childhood and travel: bicycles, over-the-top mad science, hot air balloons, trains, and, I’m assured, a large chair meant to evoke a break from reality.

The last shows to come to Boston from Cirque du Soleil, Amaluna and Totem, are tied much more closely to the natural world. Here, posters around town prominently feature gears and an acrobat with accordion-like legs. Its name, derived from “curios,” already focuses on displaced objects. There’s a kinetic, steampunk feel.

I’m told it’s longer to set up the tent than take it down. Setting up means ideal weather and racing the sun. There are sixty-five trailers of things to unpack, but the tent is just one piece. Take it out and you need a team to lift it skyward. After, you fold it up and you’re done.

KURIOS – Cabinet of Curiosities is playing
May 26th (premier) – July 10th, 2016
Suffolk Downs
525 McClellan Highway
East Boston, MA 02128
Tickets are available at www.cirquedusoleil.com/kurios

Photo by Gillian Daniels

Photo by Gillian Daniels

May 11

Caravan Palace, 5/22, House of Blues, Boston

Promo by Gillian Daniels

Want to see a time traveling big band Sunday, May 22nd at the House of Blues? Well, one isn’t playing there, but the closest thing to it is. Caravan Palace is an energetic, vibrant, French electro-swing monster. They’re strange, science fictional, and sensational.

Caravan Palace is my personal ear candy and has been since I first heard “Bambous” off their self-titled 2008 album. Their sound is cheerful and energizing, something that gets me up on hard mornings and cools me off after bad days. They’re the retro-future earworm I’ve longed for, the jitterbug robot brass band perfect for listening to on loop. Continue reading

Apr 19

Bedroom Games and War Crimes in Terrifying “Threesome”


Presented by Apollinaire Theatre Company
by Yussef El Guindi
Directed by Danielle Fauteux Jacques

April 8-May 7, 2016
Chelsea Theatre Works
189 Winnisimmet St., Chelsea.
Apollinaire on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Chelsea, MA) Leila (Alison Meirowitz McCarthy) and Rashid (Mauro Canepa) are introduced to the audience in their pajamas as self-styled intellectuals, struggling to be distant from their emotions. They’re Egyptian-Americans who open the play conversing like an editorial on gender politics, feminism, and cultural differences. Then comes in Doug (Geoff Van Wyck), the photographer they have invited into their bedroom for a sexual adventure. He’s blunt, cheerful, and thoroughly naked. He is the chaotic element that opens them up to the insecurities that run deep through their relationship. His attitudes don’t represent some enlightened, Western view as a cure-all to their squeamishness, however. No, Doug has his own insecurities he’s bringing in, too. What begins as an adult comic drama ends as a dark exploration of the political and personal. Continue reading

Apr 19

Britten’s Opera is a “Dream”

Queen Tytania (Maya Kherani) and Bottom (Joseph Hubbard), Photo provided by BU School of Music

Queen Tytania (Maya Kherani) and Bottom (Joseph Hubbard), Photo provided by BU School of Music

Presented Boston University College of Fine Arts
Benjamin Britten, composer & Peter Pears, librettist
Based on the play by William Shakespeare
William Lumpkin, conductor
Tara Faircloth, stage director

April 14–17th, 2016
Boston University Theatre
264 Huntington Avenue, Boston
BU Arts on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MA) I enjoy myself most with adaptations of Shakespeare’s comedies when their sense of fun and lightness remain intact. The direction in Boston University Theatre’s production of Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream didn’t fail me. This vision is every bit the dream of the title. Fairies wear blue wigs and polka dot suits, columns of giant, white flowers are moved across the stage, Puck (Elizabeth Valenti) brings Queen Tytania (Maya Kherani) her morning tea, and King Oberon (Wee-Kiat Chia) smugly points out his wife slept with an enchanted donkey-man (Joseph Hubbard) the night before. One scene flows into the next elegantly. For the most part, it’s a perfectly realized vision. Continue reading

Apr 08

“Dog Act” Has Bite

Presented by Theatre on Fire
By Liz Duffy Adams
Directed by Diego Arciniegas

April 1 – 23, 2016
Charlestown Working Theater
ToF on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Charlestown, MA) Stories about the end of the world are often concerned with the survival of the individual against structures that have filled the void since the fabled downfall of society. This includes reality television death match enthusiasts (Suzanne Collin’s The Hunger Games), patriarchal cults with private harems (Mad Max: Fury Road), fight dome fans lead by Tina Turner (Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome), and foul-mouthed, fur-wearing, belligerent tribes of wanderers. Dog Act looks not just at the individual, but the survival of art in a new North American wasteland. Continue reading

Mar 03

“Richard II”: Spoiled Man-Boy King Destroys Himself in Simple Production

ASP Richard II (l to r) Northumberland (Marya Lowry), King Richard II (Doug Lockwood), Bishop of Carlisle (Malcolm Ingram), Bolingbroke (Michael Forden Walker), and Henry Percy (Lewis D. Wheeler). Photo by Stratton McCrady

ASP Richard II (l to r) Northumberland (Marya Lowry), King Richard II (Doug Lockwood), Bishop of Carlisle (Malcolm Ingram), Bolingbroke (Michael Forden Walker), and Henry Percy (Lewis D. Wheeler). Photo by Stratton McCrady

Presented by Actors’ Shakespeare Project
Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Allyn Burrows

Feb. 17-March 13, 2016
Cambridge YMCA
Cambridge, MA
ASP on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Cambridge, MA) Richard II is not about a Danish prince languishing over a ghost’s warnings or an elderly king like Lear, mad with grief due to age and family strife. No, this is a story about the abuses of power and a complex man who both understands why he must give up his throne but is honest enough to admit to himself that he just really, really doesn’t want to. Continue reading

Feb 08

“Milk Like Sugar” Shuns Broad Strokes in Favor of Difficult Nuance

Presented by Huntington Theatre Company
Written by Kirsten Greenidge
Directed by M. Bevin O’Gara

Through Feb. 27, 2016
Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA
Boston, MA
Huntington on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MA) All the individual ingredients of a melodrama are here. Annie (Jasmine Carmichael) and her sassy, “bad girl” teenage friends Talisha (Shazi Raja) and Margie (Carolina Sanchez), flirt with boys based on their brand of cell phone, drink, get tattoos, and have recently made a pact to all get pregnant within a week so they can raise their children together. I was nervous Milk Like Sugar would be a morality play, a story of “teen girl must do x or else she’ll fall under the sway of y!” I should have known better. Playwright Kirsten Greenidge already blew me away with Luck of the Irish and her hand here is similarly deft. Continue reading

Nov 04

“Spektrel” Spectacular

Photo: Caitlin O'Brien

Photo: Caitlin O’Brien

Presented by The Luminarium Dance Company
Choreographed by Merli V. Guerra and Kimberleigh A. Holman

OCTOBER 27 -31, 2015 @ 8PM
Multicultural Arts Center
41 Second St, Cambridge MA
Luminarium on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

Spektrel is four stories sewn together, a series of modern dances united by themes of self-realization and independence. More broadly, it’s about millennials that have figured out what they want. Each modern dance piece slides into place beautifully, from the playful re connect to the harrowing Phoenixial Cycle. The Luminarium Dance Company knows what it’s about and directors Merli V. Guerra and Kimberleigh A. Holman put together a show that shines. Continue reading

Oct 08

Goddess Dumps “Kansas City Choir Boy”: A Love Story

Photo: Evgenia Eliseeva

Photo: Evgenia Eliseev

 

Presented by A.R.T.
Music and Lyrics by Todd Almond
Directed by Kevin Newbury
Choreography by Sam Pinkleton
Musical Direction by David Bloom

October 1 – 10, 2015
Club Oberon
Cambridge, MA
ART on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Cambridge, MA) Courtney Love stars as Athena, the idealized, former girlfriend of the titular Kansas City Choir Boy (Todd Almond). The show begins when he sees a news story on TV that she’s been found dead in a New York City park.This touches off either a series of memories or a fantasy in which the two spend the show singing love songs to each other. Continue reading

Sep 28

For Better or Worse, “The Thing on the Doorstep” is a Shambling Beast

Artwork by Dan DeRosato

Artwork by Dan DeRosato

Presented by Salem Theatre Company
Adapted from the H.P. Lovecraft story
Directed & Adapted by Isaiah Plovnick

September 17 – October 4, 2015
Salem Theatre
90 Lafayette Street
Salem, MA, 01970
Salem Theatre on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Salem, MA) Devoted H.P. Lovecraft fans should prepare themselves for a sojourn to Salem before the end of this week. The Thing on the Doorstep has been lovingly adapted to stage, giving voice to one of the most foundational science fiction writers of the early twentieth century. What’s synthesized from the material is a creeping, gothic narrative, one that fights to stay true to the spirit of the original and hew closely to the author’s voice. The move from page to stage is a fraught one, though, and Lovecraft’s style (retro by the standards of the years he wrote in with a great deal of colonialist issues throughout) is ultimately clunky. Continue reading